The Warner Archive March 27, 2018 Blu-ray of the 1998 animated movie "Batman and Mr. Freeze: Subzero" comes on the heels of Archive rocking the 2018 WonderCon in Anaheim and a few months after the spectacular (reviewed) Archive BD of the 1993 theatrical release "Batman: Mask of the Phantasm." All of this precedes the rumored Archive BD release of "Batman: The Animated Series." One can only hope that the picture and sound quality of the BAS release equals that of the two film releases.
"Subzero" stands on its own even for non-batfans. However, the good folks at Warner provide a primer and other context in the form of two BAS, a "New Batman Adventures," and a "Batman Beyond" episode from the "Subzero" era. We also get the "Subzero" theatrical trailer and a lesson in drawing Batman.
Veteran Batman voicer Kevin Conroy stars as the titular Dark Knight; his co-star is Man of 195 IMDb titles (and former Mr. Barbara Eden) Michael Ansara. Fellow Batvets Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. (Of "The F.B.I." fame) and Robert Hasting respectively voice Alfred and Commissioner Gordon.
"Subzero" opens with titular mad scientist Dr. Victor Fries (not to be confused with Captain Cold) happily going about his business in his literal Arctic lair when the outside world equally literally crashing in creates the crisis that sets the action of the film in motion.
Desperate times in the form of disrupting the cryogenic state of ill spouse Nora Fries requires the initial desperate measure of kidnapping cryogenic expert Dr. Gregory Belson (George Dzundza), who is experiencing his own desperation, and forcing him to treat Nora.
This leads to the subsequent desperate measure of kidnapping Batgirl/Commissioner Gordon offspring/Dick Grayson (a.k.a. Robin) love interest Barbara Gordon ("South Park" voicer Mary Kay Bergman) because of her suitability as an organ donor for Nora. Barbara not being dead is a minor technicality in the mind of the grieving almost-widower.
The abduction, which occurs while Barbara and Dick are on a date, leads to one of the best scenes in "Subzero." Dick takes off in daring hot pursuit of the kidnappers and goes out on a limb in an effort to save his boo. The Boy Wonder ending up in the hospital in contrast to his guardian/partner-in-crime-fighting walking off comparable injuries in the Batcave is one of many subtle separations between the men and the boys in the film.
Another notable element relates to early 20-somethings Dick and Barbara planning a weekend getaway. This leads to the explicit language and almost equally graphic sexual activity in the 21st century direct-to-video DCU films. This includes the incarnation of Robin in the 2017 future classic "Batman and Harley Quinn" having very kinky S&M sex with a titular character.
This nabbing leads to Barbara fending off her captors as The Dynamic Duo tries to locate her.
The extended climax occurs when our heroes arrive at the lair of Freeze. The ensuing battle royale strongly reflects the Batcode of not allowing either innocents or those whom no one would blame the heroes in fetishware leaving behind to perish. This culminates in a fairly literal cliffhanger that contributes to the Batguilt that shines in live-action and animated 21st century Batfare.
The aforementioned good production values and above-summarized interesting story makes "Subzero" well worthy of this release that shows the film proper regard. The bigger picture is that Archive gives DCU fans a chance to add to their home-video collection at a time that Warner Prime is producing copious new material and the good folks who purvey the classic material are giving us new chances to either revisit or to discover that which comes before it.
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